Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The '80s are the '70s (and sometimes the '60s, too), but mostly they are right now

It’s interesting that New Order, Depeche Mode and Echo and the Bunnymen – all ‘80s college rock acts – should release albums in 2005 that recall some of their best work. But it’s not really an ‘80s revival. I’m reminded of something Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens told me, namely that despite releasing all their albums in the ‘80s, the Go-Betweens never considered themselves an ‘80s band. They had their roots, like Depeche Mode, New Order and Echo, in the ‘70s post-punk boom. The same could be said for such ‘80s stalwarts as ABC, Human League, Duran Duran and the like.

Now Madonna: totally ‘80s. So much so that not only does her excellent new song “Hung Up” reference her own pop ascent, but also samples ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight).” Normally I have a problem with would-be hit songs that sample previously established hit songs, but eh. I’ll give Madonna the benefit of the doubt. After all, she wasn’t yet insufferable in the ’80s, so a return to form in her case might come as something of a welcome self-imposed gag order. It’s impossible to get into the groove when you’re getting down with Kaballah.

ABBA, for what it’s worth, had their roots in the ‘60s and hit it big in the ‘70s, but their success continued through the ‘80s. “Gimme Gimme Gimme” was a hit in 1979, right when Madonna was perfecting her New Yawk accent. Madonna supposedly had to beg the band, since ABBA doesn’t usually like to share their Swedish magic.


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